is becoming increasingly problematic, showing up on user’s computers in the most unlikely places. Even latching on to computers while the user innocently surfs the web.

Through a few precautionary measures, however, computer users can help protect themselves, and their privacy, from spyware.

The first step in protecting yourself from spyware is to be cautious when downloading materials from the internet. Many programs are offered on the internet, and several of them include spyware on their programs. To find freeware or shareware that is safe, look for it on sites that are known to be safe, such as download.com or tucows.com.

When you do download from the internet, be sure to read the End User License Agreement. The majority of computer users agree to these terms without reading the message. Agreeing to the terms puts you into a legal agreement with the software company. Make sure to read these terms, or you might be actually agreeing to have spyware installed on to your computer.

Similarly, text boxes will sometimes pop up when you visit a site. Before clicking yes, make sure what you are agreeing to. Once again, you might be giving the site permission to install spyware.

Antivirus software can also help protect you from spyware. Antivirus software will also protect your computer from Trojan horses, worms, and hoaxes. If you do have an antivirus program, but it doesn’t provide protection from spyware, be sure to get a program specifically for that purpose. Many are even available free on the internet.

Finally, be sure to check your system regularly. Even if you have spyware protectors, firewalls, and antivirus software, spyware can still make its way on to your computer. Periodic scanning of your system will help locate, and get rid of, any rogue spyware applications that have made it through your system.